Remembering the workers at Philly Yard

Who remembers Flipper the progress chaser, Rolly Barrass, Jimmy the welder, Billy Bowman, Tommy Thompson.
Who remembers Flipper the progress chaser, Rolly Barrass, Jimmy the welder, Billy Bowman, Tommy Thompson.

Former Coal Board worker John McKenna raised plenty of interest when he first shared his memories of the NCB Philadelphia Workshops - also known as the Philly Yard - last week.

It led to other former workers getting in touch and telling us more. We promised more of John’s story this week and here it is.

Left to right in the plate shop are Phil Sleeman, Davey "Marbles" Reay, Geoff Simpson, and , Paul Harris.

Left to right in the plate shop are Phil Sleeman, Davey "Marbles" Reay, Geoff Simpson, and , Paul Harris.

The Yard was a hive of activity in the 70’s and could “pretty well produce anything that was asked of it,” said John Mckenna.

“It had a fabrication shop, welding shop, joiners shop, blacksmiths shop, crossing shop, machine shop, loco side, tractor shop, paint shop, sling shop, plumbers shop, Saw shop, and even had both brass and steel foundries.”

But more importantly, it had plenty of characters.

“The management at the time were George Ferguson who was the manager, and Jackie Holmes who was the deputy manager.”

There were some fantastic tradesmen at Philadelphia and the apprentices were always teamed up with the older generation in order to learn their trade

John McKenna

John wonders who remembers Geordie, Stewy, and “Rickshaw” from the plumbers, Barney and Tony Keegan from the Loco Side, “Big Jim Hoskins” from the saw shop - affectionately known as “the Yard cat” because he was never away from the place.”

“There was “Pongo” and John ”Dougall” from the welding bay, Alan Dunn in the stores, Trevor Morley, Pop Welch, Big Davy Hancock, Dick, Brian and the yard gang, and who can forget Dennis, Joe, and Dyka from the blacksmiths to name but a few.

“There were some fantastic tradesmen at Philadelphia and the apprentices were always teamed up with the older generation in order to learn their trade, and I have fond memories of working with the likes of Brian Gray, Billy Bowman, Derek Smith, Billy Burt, Jonty Hall, Billy “Cowpey” Raine, Peter Baister, Rolly Barrass, and Billy Harrop, not to forget my foreman Alan Scott.”

To share your own memories, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.

A photo from the plate shop.
Back Row L to R..... Davey Winter, Billy Wilkinson, John McKenna, Paul Martin, Albert (driller).
Front Row L to R.... Brian Jeffries, Billy Thompson, Billy Harrop, Gary Mcpartland, Austin Watson, Ian Sheraton, Paul Harris, Davey Reay, Geoff Simpson.

A photo from the plate shop. Back Row L to R..... Davey Winter, Billy Wilkinson, John McKenna, Paul Martin, Albert (driller). Front Row L to R.... Brian Jeffries, Billy Thompson, Billy Harrop, Gary Mcpartland, Austin Watson, Ian Sheraton, Paul Harris, Davey Reay, Geoff Simpson.

Four more of those former Philly workers. Paul, Davey "Rinty" Lynn, Billy Thompson, & Jimmy the welder seated.

Four more of those former Philly workers. Paul, Davey "Rinty" Lynn, Billy Thompson, & Jimmy the welder seated.